Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola claims England midfielder Kalvin Phillips is “overweight” and “not in the right shape to train” after returning from the World Cup.
The summer newcomer from Leeds had only come on four times this season with a shoulder injury and was initially doubtful about meeting Gareth Southgate England squad.
While Phillips’ England team-mates, John Stones, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, all featured in Man City’s 3-2 Carabao Cup win over Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium, the midfielder, who was in Qatar twice for 40 minutes came on, with a surprising omission from the squad.
Asked why Phillips wasn’t in the right form to face Liverpool, Guardiola said: “He’s not injured. He arrived overweight. I dont know [why].
“He arrived in no condition to train and play.”
A reporter went on to ask: “But he was traveling with England, with nutritionists etc?”
Guardiola replied: “No, no, no, no. Absolutely. That’s why he can’t play. When he’s ready, he’ll play because we need him, we need him a lot.”
When asked if that was disappointing, Guardiola added: “It’s a private conversation with Kalvin.”
Guardiola is also missing another World Cup star, but for slightly more legitimate reasons after picking up a hamstring injury in his last game for Portugal in Qatar.
“Ruben Dias is hurt. Ruben has a hamstring from the last game at the World Cup and is out,” he added.
What’s next for Man City?
Manchester City continue their Premier League campaign with a trip to Phillip’s former side Leeds on December 28; Kick-off 8 p.m.
Man City’s busy weeks…
- December 28: Leeds United (A) – Kick-off 8 p.m. (Premier League)
- December 31: Everton – Kick-off 3 p.m. (Premier League)
- January 5th: Chelsea (A) – Kick-off 8 p.m., continue live Sky Sports (First League)
- January 8: Chelsea (H) – Kick-off 4.30 p.m. (FA Cup)
- 10. January: Southampton (A) – 7:45 p.m. (Carabao Cup)
- January 14: Manchester United (A) – Kick-off 12.30 p.m. (Premier League)
- January 19: Tottenham (H) – Kick-off 8 p.m. (Premier League)
- 22nd of January: Wolves (H) – Kick-off 2 p.m. (Premier League)
Pep: Rico Lewis faces ‘big decade’
Meanwhile, Guardiola believes Manchester City have unearthed a star for the next 10 years in teenage right-back Rico Lewis.
The 18-year-old academy graduate grabbed his last chance in the first-team by performing well in City’s hard-fought win over rivals Liverpool.
It came after Lewis scored in his first senior start against Sevilla in the Champions League earlier last month and it was his seventh appearance of the season overall.
“I feel like we couldn’t play the way we did without him,” said City manager Guardiola, who had no qualms about guiding Lewis into a high-intensity after Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo just returned from the World Cup throw encounter game.
“I am absolutely impressed at a young age how he played against a real, real senior team.
“It’s not about intelligence with the ball, it’s about intelligence without it.
“We were privileged to almost be able to announce that this guy is going to take a big decade, he’s going to be an absolutely incredible player for Manchester City in the next few years because he’s so intelligent and humble. He understands everything in just a second and applies everything.”
“He’s so smart. We have an incredible right-back with us for the next few years.
“He always plays well, but not (only) against Liverpool. Liverpool are special, with (Darwin) Nunez, (Mohamed) Salah, Thiago (Alcantara) and (Andy) Robertson at his side.
“He’s 18 years old and he played brilliantly. He was the man of the match.”